It has been reported that between 2 and 10% of elderly Americans suffer some kind of abuse each year: Financial, emotional, or physical (according to the National Center on Elder Abuse). As the U.S. population continues to age, in part to the large percentage of baby boomers, more focus is being placed on ensuring their rights are protected. While many lifestyle factors are being considered, one primary area of concern is health care. As the aging population continues to grow, so does the number of people entering into skilled nursing or long-term care facilities.
Just as we trust coaches, mentors, teachers, and spiritual leaders with our vulnerable youth, we must also be aware of the vulnerabilities of our elderly population. Although most nursing home professionals are warm and selfless people who deserve the utmost respect, we must also be aware of the potential for abuse in this environment. Bed sores, improper dosage of medications, and other negative outcomes have been reported in greater numbers over the past several years. One of the primary concerns with this situation is that an aging adult may not have the mental or physical capacity to stand up and protect themselves against these or other forms of abuse.
The best way to help stop elder abuse is first to recognize that it is happening. Symptoms that may signal abuse include: Bed sores, significant weight loss, bruising or other suspicious marks on the skin, broken bones, and repetitive or several incidents of harm. Physical manifestation is only one form of elder abuse. It can also come in the form of financial abuse, emotional or mental abuse.
If you recognize any of these signs or symptoms, it is important to take the necessary steps to notify authorities, including your attorney and local law enforcement.